Do you have a favorite watercolor paper? I’ve had several, and lately, I love Strathmore Plate Finish Bristol paper.
The surface is hot pressed, and sized, so it’s slippery-smooth, and luminous under the pigments, and it’s perfect for lifting watercolor.
When I paint at art festivals, watercolor artists strolling the shows frequently ask about the paper I’m using, and they usually reply that they’ve never heard of bristol plate finish.
When I ask what they use if they want the option to lift color, the unanimous answer is that they just don’t.
Well, I make lots o’ mistakes, kids, so I Do. Lift. Often. #powerlifter Plus, I like to lighten & “bling” parts here and there as a last step in the painting.
Selecting Watercolor Paper
Paper selection has a huge impact on all art-making; drawing, watercolor painting, and printmaking, etc.
The materials you choose (EX: for drawing – if you use pencil, vs conte crayon, vs charcoal) will attach to and release from each type of drawing paper with so much variation.
It’s worth the time to do a little testing to find the surface that works best for your style.
So, in watercolor, beyond the differences in each manufacturer’s pulp recipe, there’s cold press, hot press, rough, plate finish, weight, sized or unsized, hand or machine made, etc. Which ones have you tried? (Here’s a Primer on Watercolor Paper if you need a free download.)
Hot Press Watercolor Papers
I’ve posted a video (below) to demonstrate why I love plate finish and hot pressed watercolor papers, and how they differ from cold press and rough watercolor papers. If you don’t see the video window below, you can watch the clip on my youtube channel here.
Test Your Papers
If you have a pile of watercolor papers, cut a sample strip from each one (like I’ve done above), label the back in pencil so you’ll know which paper is which, and do some watercolor swatch tests.
Try mixing color, painting wet-into-wet, glazing and lifting. This alone will teach you so much about the papers in your arsenal.
Finding the paper that suits your watercolor painting style best could be just the breakthrough you need to continue your painting practice. And the testing process is fun. There’s no way to mess up, so just play with your paint on all of your different papers.
Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you in the next post –
You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.Maya Angelou